The U.S. Department of Commerce on Friday renewed its partnership with the agency that manages the Internet addressing system for another three years, but agreed to a much lighter touch in what experts called a big move toward private-sector control of the global network. The agreement extends the time that the U.S. government maintains its effective control of the Internet’s underpinnings beyond the current contract’s expiration, which was set for Saturday. But officials said the agreement with Icann, the California-based nonprofit group that keeps technical tabs on the Internet, also gives it more autonomy. In addition, it calls for a midterm review in 18 months, the soonest point at which Icann could become free of U.S. government oversight. ‘The top line is that this is a major step forward for Icann to become completely autonomous,’ said Paul Twomey, the Australian who is chief executive of Icann. Though much of the foundation of the Internet came out of U.S. government and university research, the network has become a critical tool in global commerce, communications and, for some countries, national security. Countries in Asia and the Middle East in particular have strenuously […]

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